The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked employees to work from home starting Tuesday amid concerns related to coronavirus, marking the first time a federal agency has taken such action since the outbreak began, according to a report Monday.
The directive requires employees on the ninth floor of the SEC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to work from home until further notice, the Washington Post reported. SEC employees on other floors were also asked to consider telecommuting for the time being.
“Even with increased telework, the SEC remains able and committed to fully executing its mission on behalf of investors, including monitoring market function and working closely with other regulators and market participants,” the SEC said in a statement. The agency has more than 4,000 employees across the country.
The SEC disclosed in an email to workers that one employee was treated for symptoms that could match coronavirus. The agency said the employee was “asymptotic” during his time at headquarters.
The SEC plays a critical role on Wall Street and is responsible for enforcing federal securities laws. The email asking employees to work from home came hours after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 2,000 points amid fallout from coronavirus fears and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Stocks futures rallied on Monday night.
Countless U.S. employers have taken precautionary action to protect workers from coronavirus. Tech giants Apple, Google parent Alphabet and Amazon are among companies asking employees to work from home.
There were more than 109,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide as of Monday afternoon. At least 3,800 people have died from the virus.
U.S. authorities have reported at least 550 individual cases of the virus and at least 21 deaths.